You are right, the person you are inside determines whether lying and deception are considered "necessary", or even "evil".
Personally, if I hired a company to perform a service for me and they did it in a way that involved any form of lying, I would wonder what else they were doing that was deceptive. Were they overcharging me? Did they even have the skills they claimed to have?
No doubt! There are so many unscrupulous salesmen out there that don't think twice about lying on a very regular basis. It is the perfect position for compulsive liars, those who even lie to themselves about things. Most of us have probably known someone like this in sales. These same people get into marketing, learn about SEO and jump in with both feet, twisting it into something you couldn't even recognize.
link building in and of itself borders on being a deceptive practice because it's usually done to secure a fake "vote" for a website. It's an industry that shouldn't exist, and wouldn't exist if Google didn't place so much weight on links. If it weren't for that aspect of Google's algorithm, we'd have website owners giving and getting links for the right reasons, with a lot less deception (and payment) going on behind the scenes.
Many who do not understand optimization think link building is what SEO is...what an SEO does.
You have to dig deeper into Google results to find what you are looking for these days, sifting through all the junk coming up in the early results of so many searches. Someday Google will catch on.
Which is more important, content or links:
Did you ever notice how many times you can tell it was someone with a business posting positive reviews, or someone promoting a book posting the 5 star review? How reliable is something like that? Totally useless. Sometimes the terminology they use is a giveaway, other times it's the same review posted across multiple sites.
Unscrupulous marketers post negative reviews, articles and feedback along with those who were truly dissatisfied. Usually, if you surf online enough, you catch on to a lot of it and begin to ignore it altogether. There has to be a lot of feedback from various sources for something to be more trustworthy.